Description: Spotted Turtles are small -- 3 ½
- 4 ½ inches (9-11.5 cm) - aquatic turtles that are black
in color with yellow spots. Hatchlings usually have one spot
per large scute on the shell but adult spotting patterns are variable.
The shell is flattened and there is orange or yellow
coloration on the head, neck, and forelegs. Males have longer
tales than females.
Range and Habitat: This species can be found throughout
the east coast of the United States and the Great Lakes region.
In our area, Spotted Turtles are found throughout the Coastal
Plain, including several barrier islands, but are found in spotty
populations and are generally fairly uncommon. Favored habitats
are shallow aquatic habitats, often with abundant vegetation,
including ditches, Carolina Bays, bogs, and cypress swamps.
Habits: Relatively little is known about Spotted Turtle
biology in the Southeast and they appear to have quite different
activity patterns from other aquatic turtles. These turtles appear
to be most common in the early spring when they can be seen basking
on logs in wetlands. Data from radio-telemetry suggests that Spotted
Turtles spend much of the warmer months buried on land. Sexual
maturity is reached at 8-10 years and the turtles may live as
long as 25 years. Diet consists of snails, worms, slugs, and insects.
Conservation Status: The spotted turtles are uncommon
but are not protected in our region. However, their specific habitat
requirements and slow reproductive rate make this species a conservation
concern. In some regions collecting for the pet trade has been
implicated in population declines. .
Litzgus, Jacqueline D. and Mousseau, Timothy A. 2002. Multiple
clutching in Southeastern Spotted Turtles, Clemmys guttata.
Journal of Herpetology: Vol. 37; 17-23.
Litzgus, J. D. and T. A. Mousseau. 2004. Demography of a southern
population of the spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata). Southeastern
Account Author: Jason Norman, University of Georgia -
edited by J.D. Willson